Six plus five of my own equals eleven. And sixteen is the number of days that had elapsed since my ill-fated jaw and chin surgery caused by a stupid mid-life crisis BMX trick that backfired twenty-two days beforehand. And landed me in the Emergency Room.
Nonetheless, despite my recent hospitalization and throbbing pain, I had made a commitment. (Plus I wanted to learn as much as possible about my almost-tween’s group of girlfriends she incessantly talks about.)
So the party was on.
And at 6:30pm sharp, the girls filed in---one by one, dragging their sleeping bags, pillows and totes across the floor.
My daughter was ecstatic as she greeted each one enthusiastically.
We splurged for a decent-quality karaoke machine to liven things up and make her party special. But with hubby out late at work, I was on my own to set up this device that had arrived only hours before. I read through the entire instruction manual---cover to cover--- to figure what to plug where.
Despite my efforts, I failed miserably and couldn’t hook it up correctly.
But it didn’t matter.
The girls found creative alternative uses for the contraption. They began interviewing one another, lining up for a talent show and several recited prose and poetry.
And due to my fragile state, my role at my kid’s sleepover extravaganza was a passive one. I sat frequently and watched. And from my vantage point---on the couch---I gained invaluable insights into how kids interact.
The data collected follows:
1. The majority of the girls shamelessly recycle the same two boyfriends between them and such sharing is totally acceptable. (Remember they’re 10-11 years old. This certainly will be intolerable in a few years.)
2. At the crest of the social hierarchy stands the oldest, tallest, and most street-smart of girls. (She was held back last year and her siblings are all teenagers.)
3. Many girls have great manners; some don’t and unfortunately, I did notice a direct correlation with the respective parents’ etiquette.
4. Several maintain excellent hygiene; others painstakingly do not. (To avoid embarrassment, I summoned them all to bathe and to brush.)
5. My six year-old son craves the spotlight. I realized this when he insisted on gyrating to the music in the dead-center of this estrogen-charged crowd, completely oblivious of his “undesirability-status” amongst them.
6. My four year-old boy idolizes his older, slicker brother and simply trails him everywhere. He relies upon him to open doors (socially) and still lacks emotional intelligence of his own. Dangerous stage.
7. My three year-old girl, the youngest of the five, has more maturity in her little toe than both boys combined and to my astonishment, kept up with the posse until 11pm---painting nails and gossiping.
8. My seven year-old daughter’s impeccable social graces were punctuated by an occasional dramatic scene lashing out at the birthday-girl. These seemingly unprovoked exhibitions of unbridled emotion reminded the older-others of her otherwise quiet existence.
As a parent, seeing my kids interact in this setting was priceless.
I gathered enough information to broach a myriad of topics such as: appropriate dress, interactions with authority, proper etiquette, hygiene, and the social responsibilities of sharing, not gossiping, and team building.
And upon observing their body language, I now understand where my own kids fit in socially.
Yes, I was that fly on the wall and got lucky.
I peered into my children’s "other world" without setting foot outside my home.
The handsome payoff was worth the sleep deprivation and subsequent migraine.